Shaping Southeast Asia: Tracing Tourism Imaginaries in Guidebooks and Travel Blogs
Tourism constitutes both an economic activity and a cultural force that involves a dynamic interplay between travelers and their ideas about the societies they visit. This paper traces the construction and negotiation of “tourism imaginaries” (Salazar, 2012) in popular guidebooks and independent travel-blogs, critically examining questions of representation and power relations in a Southeast Asian context. Employing critical discourse analysis, this paper investigates how particular Southeast Asian destinations are represented from a Western perspective. Whereas long-established commercial media such as guidebooks function mainly to communicate destination images to the reader, recent participatory media formats (e.g. travel-blogs) are more experienced-based and enable tourists to form ideas about foreign places in idiosyncratic ways. The preliminary insights of this study show that hegemonic narratives from guidebooks are rather reproduced than critically challenged and subverted in the examples under review.
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